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How Social Automation Can Be Good, Not Evil

Authors: Jay Baer Jay Baer
Posted Under: Social Media
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Social media automation has a dicey reputation, as many people believe that it robs social media of its humanity.

I understand and appreciate that sentiment. I miss the days when Twitter was the best place to go for real conversation, and Instagram didn’t have “stories” comprised of “look at me” mini-broadcasts.

But my job—and the jobs of our consulting team at Convince & Convert—is to maximize social media’s effectiveness for iconic brands all over the world.

And the truth—uncomfortable though it may be—is that some measure of social media automation can be massively beneficial when trying to use social at large (or even medium) scale.

I believe smart automation is good, not evil.

A lot of social automation sucks not because automation as a concept is inherently flawed, but because people are using inadequate tools to do sketchy things. Here’s how we use social automation; I hope you’ll find it useful and illuminating.

How to Use Social Automation to Recruit Podcast Listeners

We produce six weekly podcasts. One of our leading shows is Influence Pros, a podcast dedicated to how brands use influencer marketing, and how influencers want to work with companies. It’s a smart show with great hosts (Heidi Sullivan from Cision and Julianna Vorhaus from TapInfluence) and strong guests.

But, the world of influencer marketing is still fragmented and there aren’t very many watering holes of record for this nascent industry. We want our podcast to be one of those key places where influencer marketing folks go to stay on top of the business. To do that, they have to know about the show. Which is where social automation—with Insightpool, in this instance—comes into play.

Step 1: Get an Insightpool Account

For brands, fees run $500-$6,000/month based on how much services support they need, and whether you need Twitter + Instagram data, or just Twitter. In this example, I’m using Twitter only.

Step 2: Set up Searches to Find Target Audience

Here, I want to find influencer marketing thought leaders, professionals, experts, gurus and the like. There are multiple ways to find this group using Insightpool, including searching keywords from Twitter conversation, Klout topics, locations, people who only follow defined Twitter accounts, etc.

In this example, I kept it simple. I chose to search only for people who use the terms “influencer marketing” or “influence marketing” in their actual Twitter profile bio. I figure that if you care about the topic enough to put it in your bio, you’re likely to be pretty serious about the concept.


I refined my list to show only people, not companies. My Insightpool search results found 361 people on Twitter who mention “influencer marketing” or “influence marketing” in their profile, and the database is relatively certain are actual humans.

My pal Lee Odden was prominently featured on this list, as was my friend Amber Armstrong from IBM, with whom I partnered on the nifty THINKMarketing content portal.

Step 3: Add People to Your Custom Campaign Segment

When I know that candidates served up by Insightpool are right for my audience, I click the square on their profile card, and they are added to the campaign segment. Some people are featured in gold in Insightpool, which means they tend to interact more on the platform and are especially good candidates.

When I’m not familiar with the person and want to get a better feel for whether they’ll be interested in the Influence Pros podcast, I click their name to see a full dossier on their background and social footprint.


Here’s the full profile for Geno Prussakov who runs the Influencer Marketing Days Conference (coming up in November in New York). It has links to all the places he has accounts in social media, pulls in his professional history, recent tweets, and tweets between Geno and myself (shown in the Insightpool history tab).

Step 4: Analyze Segment

Once I have the right people added to my segment, I analyze my current relationship with each using the Segments feature. This includes a very cool engagement funnel that shows how many people I’ve engaged with once on Twitter (casual engaged); how many I’ve engaged with twice (heavy engaged); and how many I’ve engaged with more than twice (advocates). In this context, engagement includes replies, likes, clicks, favorites, etc.


I can also further refine the list, and/or get a feel for what words and/or hashtags this audience tends to use and who they follow on Twitter (in addition to me, this group follows MarketingProfs (100%), Brian Solis (94.7%), Mari Smith (89.5%), Bryan Kramer (84.2%), and Jeff Bullas (78.9%) among others.

I also learn what tweets have been most shared within this segment.


Step 5: Create Campaign

Now that I’ve found my people and evaluated who they are and what they discuss online, I create an outreach campaign that will tweet them with an informative, non-spammy message about the Influence Pros podcast.

There are many campaign types. In this instance, I want to use a @Mention campaign, whereby my account will tweet a few of these people each day, rotating through a set of messages gently promoting the podcast. I can use as many variations of these tweets as I want to write, and I can use video, photos, gifs, etc. I can use add tagged/tracked URLs to the tweets.

I then determine whether I want this initiative to run for a specific date range, or ongoing. And then I’m off and running!


Before the campaign goes live, however, I have a final chance to review each tweet and each person to make sure nothing will go out that could be misinterpreted or annoying.

Step 6: Analyze Results

Once the campaign commences, I get real-time data on which people in the segment are interacting with the content, which versions of the tweets are more effective, etc.

Is this social media automation? You bet. But I believe this is smart automation that is planned and purposeful.

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